Children get gift of literacy

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St Theresa's School Year 4 pupils (from left) Maddie Burt, Emily Baden and Hazel Tai Aluni (all 8), of Bluff, show their copies of the Usborne Illustrated English Dictionary they received at the launch. Photo: Janette Gellatly

UP to 900 copies of the Usborne Illustrated English Dictionarywill be given to Year 4 pupils throughout Southland and Stewart Island as part of the Rotary Club of Invercargill North annual Dictionaries in Schools project this week.

Begun in 2007, this year’s launch was held at Bluff School on Monday where 17 of its pupils were joined by Year 4 pupils from nearby St Theresa’s School to each receive a dictionary.

Bluff School principal Geoff Folster said the Rotary project was a very important event.

“Anything that gets kids involved in reading and literacy is a good thing.

Bluff School Year 4 pupil Cee-Jay Walker (8) with her Usborne Illustrated English Dictionary she received at the launch of the Dictionaries in Schools Rotary project on Monday.

“It is important kids got dictionaries to use in the class and at home… it’s theirs.”

Rotarian John Flynn was inspired to bring the idea to Southland after seeing a stand with dictionaries which were given to every child in the United States during a visit to a Rotary conference at Salt Lake City in 2007.

In the past 13 years, it was estimated almost 21,000 dictionaries had been given to Southland pupils for their personal use at school and home.

Rotary club project convener Anne McCracken said the number of dictionaries given away each year was determined by the school rolls.

“Sometimes it may be the first book a child may call their own.”

At the launch, guest speaker Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt described books as the great survivors.

“When I was a child, we were told books would disappear by now… but books have survived.”

He praised books, describing them as a companion.

“… enjoy them as well as getting information from them.”

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